Belarus is one of those places in which the smell and the air of the Soviet Union is still alive, safe and sound. And Rafal Milach‘s photo series portraying Belarusian winners of the most ridiculous prizes you can imagine, is the perfect example of that. As you can see, the regime awards the working class and the people supporting the regime. More important: it awards the loyal and the good citizen all around the country, in kolkhozes, schools, nightclubs and village discos. The winners receive a state diploma which must be a great status boost in a country in which facade and prestige mean the world.
All posts tagged photography
I went to see the graduates exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, this year, and I was expecting to be done with it in the first five minutes. It’s all too often that on such occasions I end up being unimpressed by the young artists’ creative restlessness. But not this year. This year I spent a long time looking at each project, and Lynn van Asperen‘s I’m Here to Improve Myself is one of the ones I really fell for.
Klaus Pichler is by far one of my favorite photographers. I love the unusual subjects he finds and the way he makes those subjects seem even more curious and interesting than they are in the first place. I previously wrote about him and his Just the Two of Us series of portraits of cosplayers and their homes (cosplayers are those people who dress up like all sorts of characters). And now here is Skeletons in the Closet, a look behind Vienna’s Museum of Natural History, in those rooms where stuffed animals pile up (and come alive at night?).
Vivian Maier’s work was discovered accidentally. She took photos all her life and kept them hidden while working as a nanny. No one knew about the photos. In 2009, soon after her death, John Maloof accidentally bought a box of negatives and undeveloped films at an auction. He didn’t know what he was buying and he was amazed by what he saw when he scanned the photos. I heard the story some years ago and now I was looking forward to seeing this film he made, in search for this amazing artist that kept everything about herself to herself, including her wonderful photos.
I have a friend who came to The Netherlands from Hong Kong and she was surprised that here you can see the stars at night. Apparently, in Hong Kong that is quite a luxury because of the light pollution. If to that you add the sight of these enormously high flats and the knowledge that the place is one of the most densely populated places on earth, you get a mental picture of this unique and crowded place. And to complete those mental pictures, see some real pictures below.
I look at photos all the time. I search for them, I analyze them and I try to understand what they say. And there are some types of photos I am really tired of. And huh…they are everywhere. Aesthetically, they are fine or good or very good. It’s not this what bothers me. Many of the photos that strike me as unnecessary and bore me to death are well composed and good quality. Yet, there’s more than that to a photo. I’m usually looking for concept, connotations, the feeling they give, the story they tell. I expect photos to give something to my eyes, my heart or my mind, and preferably to a combination of at least two of these. And below you can see some kinds of photos that I’m really tired of seeing.
I can bet that if I give you a map of Africa right now, you won’t be able to show me where Botswana is. I can also bet that after seeing these eye-candy photos you’ll want to fill this gap in your knowledge. Marcel Proust’s famous quote – the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes – may apply. American photographer Zack Seckler got new eyes from 150 meters above the ground and discovered just this: a mix of patterns and out of this world beauty.
Some years ago, this photo of this young girl smoking was literally covering half of the Fotomuseum in The Hague. My specialty is photojournalism and what I thought when I saw this photo is very much proof of how focusing on something for a long time, can create certain patterns of thought and can make us see connotations. I remember looking at it and thinking – issue: child prostitution/ problem: makes it seem mysterious and Lolita-like/observation: even then, the simple beauty and the candid look in the child’s eyes is arresting, and it does make a point, through contrast, a rough one. And… I was completely wrong. Instead, this is an art photo called Cigarette Candy, and it is part of the Immediate Family series through which American photographer Sally Mann became well known in 1992. Seeing these photos made me want to know more. And this is how I ended up watching What Remains.
Literature helped me survive most of the long and boring days of my (first 12 years of) formal education. I secretly read in class, keeping the book on my knees, under the desk. I love stories and what they taught me, and up to this day I believe that ‘skipping class’ and diving deep into my books is one of the best choices I ever made. It was during that period that I read most of the stories from which designer and writer Dinah Fried took the inspiration for this project. She cooks, designs and photographs some of the most famous meals from some of the most famous novels. And seeing each of these photos, feels like the first time you watch a film made after a book you really loved.
My most precious possession when I was 3, was a clown named Micky. He was made of that kind of synthetic velvet that can give you goose bumps when you run your hand on it. He was half blue and half orange and his head was made of rubber. One day, he lost the rubber head. No one knows what happened to it. But to the stupefaction of my entire family, I loved him nonetheless. At a point, my mom tried to replace him with a new identical Micky. But – and this is something that defined me since I was tiny – I never cared for identical replacements. I cared for the headless Micky who had all the stories.
Did you every look in the eyes of a dog and think he looked like a boy in the body of a dog? I did. Many times. And these photos bring back those feelings. (I think it’s called to anthropomorphize, can you pronounce it?). Perhaps because photographer Martin Usborne reenacts his childhood fear of being left behind in the car. Or perhaps because the quietness and loneliness of these dogs, waiting for their master, is simply beautiful and expressive. Animals in general, and dogs in particular censor nothing of their feelings, and Usborne projects human worries, sadness and restlessness in their bitter-sweet portrayals.
Some years ago, I was in the train traveling from Amsterdam to The Hague, and the train stopped in Leiden. I was sitting in the last wagon and I remember looking outside the window and seeing at the end of the platform, a young man, crying. I can still see that image, what he looked like, the way he was sitting, inconsolable. I remember because I could almost feel what would be like to hold him and feel his warm strained body. And I had the same sensation when I first saw Carla Richmond and Hanne Steen‘s project Lovers’ T-shirts.
Edward Burtynsky’s work is unique. I really believe that without his Manufactured Landscapes, you simply cannot have a dimension of the scale, extent and impact of industrialization. His Watermark project – of which I wrote before for Feature Shoot – ‘portrays’ water – an element scarce in some places and taken for granted in others – in such a meaningful way. In general, Burtynsky’s images are beautiful, but that’s not all they are. His images also give a visual dimension to macro-issues that otherwise would remain distant and abstract.
Many kids, the delights of growing up with cats and a lot freedom. And a bit of chaos. A documentation of life somewhere in France. Sounds a bit idyllic? Well, it really is. Alain Laboile is taking these photos of his 6 children, and seeing them made me miss childhood friends, idle days and a certain simplicity.
There is an international day for everything. For too many things. But cats certainly deserve one and I recently discovered this celebratory selection. These black and white photos are all about the details and charms of homey felines. In case you didn’t grow up with one, it’s not too late to discover the magic of purring.
It’s almost worth leaving your home to see what happens. This photo project made my day today. The thought of these curious faces appearing from around the corner might be frightening for some. But to me it seems delicious!
Have you ever noticed how many stories an object from your past can tell? How those stories become alive once you rediscover an item long lost? We live our lives surrounded by objects and they’re not just things, but significant things. They absorb our lives. And they keep it there for later remembrance. And this photo project is the best illustration of this.